Monday, February 24, 2014

Sisters Conference!

February 21st at the Asoke Chapel in Bangkok, all the sister missionaries in the Thailand Bangkok Mission gathered for "Sister's Training."

The theme was taken from James E. Faust:

Faith is the power
Obedience is the Price
Love is the Motive
The Spirit is the Key
Christ is the Reason

Speakers were Sisters Painter, Sawangwong, Ference, Sahagan, Manning, Zaugg and others who bore testimony. Sister Senior and President Senior gave great talks on the value of Sister missionaries, and obedience. A musical number was "The Olive Tree." All talks were excellent and I came away rejuvenated to work even harder.

The luncheon was fantastic--as always.

I have to add this picture of Sister Meeker mixing the chicken salad for the sandwiches. Gotta do something big for a hungry group like this!

Learning about the Creation

Saturday’s youth activity the elders taught about the creation using Genesis’ version. Most Thais do not know the bible well, or the creation story. When they start investigating the church, they are given a  Book of Mormon, and later they will have a Bible.
Building the creation

The youth were divided into groups and had to make (flour dough/paper cutouts/etc.) something to represent what happened each day of the creation. One young man turned on the overhead fans to represent the presence of air on earth. Two boys used a flashlight for "Let there be light." We had animals, fish, birds, plants (not in that order) and last of all--a salt dough man and woman. It all worked out. We built our earth on a cookie sheet.

Boonlerd teaching making bows
Then we played a make-shift version of Creation Cranium where teams had to answer questions about the creation. The most fun discovery was that Sister Ja cannot walk like a penguin.

Afterward, Sister Boonlerd taught the youth how to make flowers and bows from ribbon. For the treat, we had a sundae bar with food items representing each day of the creation: Ice cream was formed matter; homemade chocolate sauce and whip cream for the separation of light and dark; bananas and nuts were the plants; gummy bears and animal crackers represented the animals; and for mankind, we used plain M&Ms for “man”.   It was delicious fun.

It is Elder Crump's birthday and Sister On brought this gorgeous cake. He served it to all the members and didn't save a piece for himself.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

History in the Making!

Elders Fronberg and Steiner are first to go to Myranmar

We witnessed history today! The first two "Branch Builders" (aside senior couples) are assigned to Myranmar. Elders Fronberg and Steiner will work with Elder and Sister Hobbs and Elder and Sister Haymore already in Yangon. This is so exciting to see this happen. It is not legal to proselyte, but they can teach those who come to the church house.
Our mission is growing (170) as you can see by the photo. All elders and sisters were invited to this transfer meeting. Many changes were made. I love the energy of transfer meeting. Ayutthaya lost elder Slaughter (sorry to see him go to zone leader) and gained Elder Kettavong. Good things are in store for Ayutthaya!

Here are the newly arrived elders and sisters:

Elder and Sister Brown – Riverton, Utah, assigned to Udorn  
Elder and Sister Ure  - Orem, UT, assigned to ChaingMai
Elder Tamang – California
Elder Boonmee – Riverton, UT
Elder Lingard – Mesa, AZ 
Elder Savage – Provo, UT
Elder Finlayson –North Ogden, UT 
Elder Smith – Lindon, UT            
Elder Baldwin, Concord, CA 
Elder Hales – Orem, UT
Elder Bassett – Layton, UT
Sister Black – Alpine, UT
Elder Burke – North Ogden, UT
Elder Larsen – Fairview, UT
Elder   Cooper - Australia
Elder Lodwick- Nashville, TN 

I probably missed someone or got their hometown wrong! Each of these elders and sisters are eager to start to work. Please say a special prayer for the Thailand Bangkok mission's success.

 I missed listing last transfer's new Elder and Sisters, so here they are:
  • Sister Allyson Adams
  • Sister Brooke Embley
  • Sister Samantha Holmes
  • Sister Brittany Lam
  • Sister Brynne Woodbury
  • Elder Reid Arne 

    Those who are boarding the plane for home (Yep, their two years are up) are:

    Elder Dillon Haughton
    Elder Joseph Gibbons - served in Ayutthaya
    Elder Narin Rakmak 
    Sister Mary Orchard 
    Elder Carson Tatton 
    Elder Joseph Cox 
    Elder Braxton Davies 
    Elder Corbin Sharp 
    Elder Nathan Bartling
    Elder Barry Engle - served in Ayutthaya
    Elder Landon Simonsen 

    Elder Ethan Bennett 
    Elder Eric Campbell
    Elder Rhett Gilley
    Elder Jace Saunders 

    Elder Matthew Creer 
    Elder Jackson Harley 
    Elder Keoki Yuen 
    Elder Renner

Monday, February 17, 2014

Six Baptisms in February

Joy comes in six's. The Ayutthaya Branch is celebrating six baptisms in the month of February! The baptisms throughout the mission are up due to the new approach of inviting to be baptized on first meeting. All these sisters and brothers will be great additions to our branch!

It took almost 8 hours to fill our beautiful, new baptismal font. The faucet is tiny and the water pressure is so poor. The safety drain is about 2 1/2 feet from the floor, so the elders had to duck tape over it so they could fill the font high enough to baptize. We are still learning the joys of a new building.

Siriraj Hospital and Museum, Bangkok

On Tuesday a van from the largest hospital in Thailand picked us up in Ayutthaya and took us to Siriraj Hospital (Mahidol University Medical School) in Bangkok. This hospital/medical school was started by the H.M. King Chulalongkorn of Thailand in 1888 after losing his 1 + year-old son (Siriraj) due to the lack of available medical treatment. He realized if the King’s son could die due to poor medical help, so would many common citizens. Another of his sons went to Harvard medical school and became a doctor. He returned to help start the hospital and a medical school. Today, the hospital sees about 12,000 patients a day, including doctor visits. The hospital has also build a private hospital next door that promises great (fast service) at private hospital prices. Counting the hospital's, labs, medical university, the campus has 72 buildings, including one building with rooms like a hotel for families to stay while a loved one is a patient. 
Cute elephant made from bath towels

This private hospital's goal is to be recognized as one of the best hospitals in the country. After hearing Elder Sowards speak at the Thailand Quality Award conference, Dr. Cherdchai asked him to come observe their Lean processes and give ideas. He accepted, wanting to help Thailand through his own specialty. 

The hospital also has natural healing Thai services. They treated us both to a traditional Thai massage, which we enjoyed.

Students outside the museum. They flocked to
Elder Sowards when he began speaking in Thai to them.

Sister Sowards' guide on campus, Deiry, who spoke excellent English.

Elder Sowards with two doctors implementing "Lean" principles at the hospital.
Prof. Visit Vamvanit, MD, Elder Sowards, and Prof. Cherdchai Nopmaneejumruslers, MD
Our night view of Bangkok and Rama VIII Bridge.
The Thonburi railway station was once on this sight. Now the station is the Siriraj Bimuksthan Museum displaying the history of the hospital and medicine in Thailand, about the railway, and the artifacts found in the area--including a 24 meter long boat. It had been buried for over a hundred years and regarded the biggest wooden boat ever to be excavated in Thailand.

This is a view of Rama VIII Bridge. It is a cable-stayed bridge crossing the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Construction of the bridge took place from 1999 to 2002. It made a spectacular view from our room.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Harts and Seangsawans Complete Missions

Elder John and Sister Sally Hart (ID) and President Mani and Sister Nada Seangsawan (UT) have completed their missions. We were privileged to  attend the farewell dinner at the mission home (Pres. and Sister Senior). 

Back row: Sister and Elder Sowards, Elder Gibson, Elder Seangsawan, Elder Hart, Elder Marvel, Elder Manning, Elder Meeker, President Senior.
 Front row: Sister Senior, Sister Goodson, Sister Seangsawan, Sister Hart, Sister Marvel, Sister Manning, Sister Meeker.

We are so blessed to work with such wonderful, faithful saints who are willing to give this time in their lives to serve our Lord. We have grown so much from our association with them.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chocolate Chips, Our New Meetinghouse, and a Hospital Visit

Our week started a bit unusual when we received a call from a 480 (area code) number on our iPhone. It was a man named Jackson who said his daughter was friends with Ted & Rex and he had a care package for us. He was visiting his company in Lop Buri about 70 miles north of us. We decided to drive up and get it. Turned out he had a fishbone from his lunch stick in his throat so he went a clinic to have it removed. We did meet two of his co-workers and they gave us the package. They also bought us dinner and were very kind. 
A foggy morning at church. Unusual for Ayutthaya.
We finally have enough room for everyone's motor scooters.
Picture shot outside front door of church.
Our new church building, the last end two units
of an eight unit building.

 We were excited to discover chocolatechips, pecans, taco bell sauce (mild) and Almond Joys and Reece’s peanut butter cups in the box - what a treat!
We spent much of the week moving to our new church building. No, it was not completely ready by Sunday, but we met anyway. We had no airconditioning in chapel and no water in the upstairs bathrooms. The A/C unit in the primary room only blew hot air. We made it through the day!

Sun setting over Ayutthaya
The new church is further away from our house, but not much. It is a nicer building. I didn’t hit my head once on the ceiling while going up and down the stairs this past Sunday. I averaged 2 to 3 hits a day in the old church. One surprise was that we can’t use the 4th floor with its 2 bathrooms and 3 classrooms. The old church had 4 floors and we used all of them. The church facilities man said we are too small of a branch to justify the additional space. The rooms are unfinished (no A/C) but we can use the level for our storage.

The young missionaries often use the church building to teach investigators. This week we hosted several lessons at our home. It was fun, maybe we will encourage them to do more lessons at our home. At one lesson, Joan served chocolate chip cookies she had made earlier. The investigator said he thought Joan should open a bakery and sell them. We all agreed that the cookies were great.

Saturday we went to the hospital to visit a member (man age 25) who was hit by a car late Thursday night. He was on a motorcycle and was hit head on. He was still unconscious, has a broken arm and leg, liver damage and fluid leaking from his brain. The two young elders helped me administer to him. We could not touch his head or much of his body so we administered to his leg. I wish, in giving blessing like that, the spirit would say, “take up thy bed and walk” but not this time. His mother is so heartbroken she would not go into the room to see him. I told her to go talk to him even though he is not awake, that he would hear her. She did it. Sunday we received word that he is doing better. We went to visit him today but discovered that visiting hours for patients like him is only from 11 am to noon and 6 to 7 PM daily. We went at 5 PM and could not wait till 6.

A father of a member is in the same hospital. Actually the man’s mother is also a member so he is sandwiched between two members in the family. He is having lung and heart problems. We administered to him at his request, too. He was doing better today. Because his room (20 beds) is so crowded, his bed is out in the foyer. He was still there today and now there was a man in a bed next to his. Joan noted that that man was chained to the bed. Maybe a criminal (we didn’t ask), but more likely just a threat to skip out of the hospital without paying.